17 May 2002

Farmcare halt to production

ONE of the UKs biggest farming operations is to cease milk production on a West Country estate in the autumn in a bid to halt mounting losses.

Farmcares 1000-cow operation based at three farms on the Down Ampney estate, Gloucestershire, has amassed a six-figure loss over the past few years and needs significant investment to return to profit, says the company.

"Unfortunately, this is not justified at a time when the UK market is under severe pricing pressure," said a spokesman. "It is essential we concentrate investment and expansion on those of our units where we are already profitable,"

Farmcare, part of the Co-operative Group, milks 4500 cows and farms more than 80,000 acres across the UK, and has begun an investment programme at Stoughton, Leicestershire, where it also milks 1000 cows. The company plans further upgrades at this and other dairy units (it also milks cows in Cheshire, Gloucestershire, Shropshire and Ayrshire) to maintain its annual milk quota of 30m litres. &#42